4-23-2015 Talk Like Shakespere Day

Dear Folks:                                                                               9 PM April 22, 2015

Heavens! What a day!DSC01903
I’ll see what I can get written tonight (Wednesday), but this letter may be finished in the morning.  I’ve just finished doing the New Normal show, but I’m going to need to get to bed because I’m wiped.  … {yep, finished this Thursday Morning. Happy Talk Like Shakespere Day (forsooth)!}

First- spring has sprung. The bulbs have burst into glorious bloom. We’ve got enough hyacinth accumulated from years of buying one or two, then planting them after they bloomed- which they say won’t work, but enough have survived to make a brave display. Also daffodils, and some mini-daffs, (they’re down at the bottom, next to and the same size as) a few snowdrops. If we go to Milford, it’s two weeks earlier season-wise, and the leaves are beginning to show on the lilac bushes, and “red mist” spreads over the maples, and the first forsythia are beginning to bloom. We should have them by May Day. I had John put on the screen door- before the bugs showed up. We’ve had some days where it’s warm enough to gladly leave the solid door open, and can black flies be far behind? It is an extra complication when letting the cats in and out.

Now, let me tell you about my day, our day, or really, Willow’s day.  It started last week. You may recall that last week the girls were headed off to the Apple Store because Kat’s computer was crapped out, and we decided to replace it, and refurbish her old one for Jon. The problem seems to have been that the 7 year old hard wear, although still functional, is not able to deal with the constantly, well, periodically, updated soft wear.  They essentially keep changing systems so you can’t use old computers. It’s something like in the movie Robots, when they stop making replacement parts for the older models to force everyone to get upgrades.
This week has been spent trying to recover anything that was lost from the “refurbishing” (read: wiping) the old computer. Apparently, the time machine, which had been supposed to save everything got full, so it decided that music and pictures were not essential, and Kat didn’t find that out until she tried to get everything out again. It’s been hard, very hard. She’s trying a new drug combination, and this level of stress makes it really hard to figure out whether it’s not working as well as we’d like, or whether losing so much precious stuff is traumatic. There has been a lot of crying, and when one of the girls hears the other crying, she feels bad and so it’s a synergistic feedback loop. Finally on Sunday they ended up screaming at each other, and Willow mentioned it to her friend in Florida, who invited her down to help them pack for Bolivia. Checking with her Mother, the mother offered to pay for her flight in exchange for her help. Pretty cool. So much for the feedback loop. She’ll be leaving right after Kat’s birthday.
That’s kind of a good stress, but we all were kind of having “adrenaline hangovers” on Monday. This reminded me to pull out the Bach’s Rescue Remedy, and we’re now taking various of the Bach’s Flower Remedies (and vitamins, and we’ve started taking walks). Willow was feeling achey and nauseous all day, Tuesday it was really uncomfortable and we started talking doctors. This morning (Wednesday) it was painful enough, and she’d had it long enough that she was actually willing to call the doctor. Sadly, our doctor’s practice had no slots, and suggested she go to the hospital. She’d googled “pain in lower abdomen”  and found the internet pretty freaking useless. She was pretty much able to eliminate appendicitis and hernia, but that was about it. My kids HATE going to the doctor, so if Willow wanted to go, I figured I could put off writing the letter and take her.
First though, we had to wait for the repairman. You may remember that we’d replaced the pump in the washer week before last? there was water leaking from the bottom of the machine. I figured we’d not tightened the hose clamps properly, and we had it tipped over and checked them several times, but finally we worried about how wet the floor was, and I called the repairman Monday morning, and he came today. He discovered that we’d just failed to turn the pump (which snaps in) the last inch or so, which is why it was leaking. I guess it was a question of strength of hand (and knowing what you’re doing). He only charged me for a half visit, and it’s fine now. Yay. John started working through the backlog of laundry while we were out.
DSC01900   So, after the repairman left, Willow and I headed off.  Kat came along because she didn’t want to be alone with the uncooperative computer again. It took Willow all morning to get through- the answering service (which won’t take messages much less make appointments) said they were all in a meeting.  All 20 of them? I find it insupportable that they all take the same lunch time (leaving the service to tell people they’re out and to call back), and this time they were “all” in a meeting? WTH?. But when she finally got through, there were no appointments left, but they told her that they’d have to do tests anyway, so go to the Emergency Room.  I figured we’d start at the Urgent Care Center (which used to be the Milford Emergency Room)- only a half hour away.

Apparently they can’t do (many) tests. I asked them what they were there for if they couldn’t do the stuff (like drawing blood and taking X Rays as they used to do), and they said they were just there for people who couldn’t get into see their doctors. Why do we have doctors if they have more patients than they can see, and have to go to someplace to see a random doctor who knows nothing about us? They are really depending on tests rather than the doctor knowing his patient these days. Probably because they have to do ALL the tests to Cover their Butts anyway, so they figure, why do they need to know the patient?
They did have her pee in a cup and could eliminate urinary tract infection, but then they sent her to the Emergency Room in Nashua for “imaging” (“maybe a CT scan, maybe an MRI, don’t worry, Medicaid covers it”). Swell. Another half hour’s drive. (All that talk about the “golden hour” and they reduce the number of ERs so it takes people longer to get there, making the ERs more crowded so the waits are longer. Great thinking! Meanwhile, at Urgent Care, there are signs all over telling you that you have to pay their bill (or co-pay) plus the doctor’s bill before you leave. Last time we went to the ER for 3 stitches it was something like a 10 hour wait and $700 cumulative bills. As a good consumer, I called and told them that next time I’d not bother bringing my kid in for stitches but handle it myself (besides, the doctor did a crap job and left a scar). So they waved part of the bill. But really, if they make it both more difficult, and too expensive, people are just going to not get the medical care they tell us we should get. It’s like re-defining who’s unemployed by not counting the people who’ve been unemployed for too long, then claiming there are less “unemployed” now. Yeah, right. Anyway, they told us that they were sending all the information to Nashua and they’d be expecting us. Also, no drinking in case they decided to operate.
willow's port   A half hour later we got to Nashua, Willow was really thirsty, and  (after changing the Milford ID cuff for the Nashua ID cuff), the first thing they did was to asked her to pee in a cup again, because god forbid they should trust the test the other facility had done. She explained that she’d been emptied in Milford and told not to drink- so they brought in a bag of saline administered IV. (She took a picture of her port, a very nice EMPT put in. Actually, all the people we saw were very nice, and there was almost no one there, as opposed to last year when Kat was taken in.) They also gave her some morphine, which as she describes it didn’t make her so much stop hurting as make it feel like the pain was “over there” for about an hour, so could feel it, but didn’t care about it any more. Since she has CFS (or systemic exertion intolerance disease/ SEID) which means she has chronic pain, it’s a bit hard for her to figure out how much more pain she has than the various headaches, body aches, etc. that are her daily life.

She did say it was extreme discomfort, so they gave her the pain meds. They wore off an hour later, and about two hours later, they told her she was going to have an ultrasound. We all know ultrasounds- they run a paddle over the outside of your body and it shows what’s going on inside. It’s famous for being non-invasive. But no, when she got to the room, they told her to put her feet up in stirrups- they wanted an internal. She didn’t so much mind that as much as that they hadn’t told her before she got to the room. You’re supposed to be told what tests they want to do and why, what they expect to find or eliminate, how this will determine treatment. They really shouldn’t treat people like we’re inanimate parts of a testing procedure. Then, of course, we had to wait for the Radiologist to interpret the results.
As we were leaving for the trip I’d made sure that the girls both had their kindles because we knew there’d be waiting, but I forgot my own. Mistake. Also, by five, since we’d left right after breakfast (OK, ten-ish) we were getting pretty peckish. I took Kat to the snack machine (she couldn’t deal with the cafe), and she had coke and a snickers and chips, but we needed food. There’s a general rule in the ER- nobody eats until they know the diagnosis, and are sure they aren’t going to be operated on DSC01901soon. Gah! I wish I’d brought a book, but I’d taken the small volume I usually carry out of my purse. Also, I knew we had an hour drive, and a few errands, and I had to be home before 8 for the podcast. Patience is not my strong suit. Thank goodness the girls had theirs, and Willow kept in touch with friends and her progress on fb.
Final diagnosis? The ultrasound showed a small ovarian cyst. They didn’t seem impressed at all. They were more shocked when they asked (they ALL asked) what meds she was on, and she said none. (They ALL looked perplexed at that.) But while they did say “see a gynecologist”, they also said it will probably go away on it’s own in a couple of days, here’s some pain-killers to help you wait. Drink water, rest, exercise. What’s the gynecologist for if it’s going to go away by itself? In case it doesn’t, and to prevent recurrence. Well, that would be good.

As soon as we got out, we headed straight for Wendy’s and food and drink. Then we went to Walmart, and while they filled Willow’s prescription, got groceries, dropped vids off at the library and got home in time for me to sign in to the New Normal.

Tonight I talked to Cheryl Costa who’s just finished a documentary about “When Witchcraft Came Out of the Broom Closet” about a TV show they did back in 1991 and ’92 called Kestryl and Company, to let people who didn’t have much of a clue about Wiccans and Pagans know what we were really like. Apparently at the time, the elders of the local pagan community put some pressure on her not to be out where people could see her, as she’s a Tranny, and they didn’t want to confuse the two issues. Given that the point was to let the world know that pagans are just like everyone else, I can see the point, but I sure hope things are better these days. The documentary also covers the origins of the paranoia about Witches, and why the efforts had to be made to combat it. She also mentioned some of the things that happened during the two years (70 shows) it was on the air, like people “coming out” after various episodes had aired all over the world. The acceptance we’ve gained is probably attributable to people like Cheryl and Kestryl and others we’ve never even met.
By the way, Wendy’s has a new item on their menu- “Ghost Pepper” fries. It’s french fries with cheese sauce, and chopped jalapeños.  The sauce has hot pepper flavoring in it. I hesitate to believe that it’s actual Ghost Pepper– that stuff is dangerous. But maybe they have very tiny amounts in the cheese sauce. The cheesey fries are very good though.
“Just sayin'”.

Oh, another thing I had to deal with this week is renewing our business insurance. Apparently it lapsed and I didn’t notice. Had to put in a new application, and am waiting for confirmation. I’m kind of waiting for the other shoes to drop.

This week I read three more of the Roman Mysteries: 12 Tasks of Flavia Gemina, Enemies of Jupiter, Gladiators of Capua, exhausting the ones available in our library system. I have now had to send for copies of the next couple. I suppose magazines cost $6 these days, so 1¢ plus $3.99 for a used copy is low enough to just toss them out when I’m done, although I probably won’t.  I will tell you though, the books are well written, the stories exciting, and the characters believable. I have had only one complaint with the research- Caroline Laurence, the author, has explained so many bits of Roman daily life in the series, and I wish she’d covered one that the modern world has wrong, although she probably didn’t since why would she have to without someone who didn’t have the modern viewpoint to justify the explanation? Unless my sources are wrong, the “thumb up” position (with the hand moving downward) imitated the hand holding a dagger when slaying the downed gladiator. The thumb down (then rotating the hand) imitated the sword hand moving the sword away- signifying mercy to the downed man. That complaint aside, I loved this book, and the author’s portrayal of the whole “bread and circus” aspect of Roman life, “rock star” gladiators, and how the Flavian Amphitheater worked, and that Colossus referred to the ridiculously large statue of Nero it was built near, which led to it being called the Colosseum. I was really happy that I had Gladiators on hand when I finished Enemies, because it was a bit of a cliff-hanger (the ten year old Jonathan blaming himself for the fire in Rome and the deaths it caused), and running away. Until the next book comes in I’m reading Daughters of Rome, a novel set in the Year of Four Emperors, from the point of view of the women in one patrician family trying to get through it. I’m still working my way through the Lydian Baker and probably won’t read any more Corvinus books. Maybe this isn’t as good as the others of Wisharts I’ve read, but so far, the best thing in it is the parrot (with an unfortunate vocabulary) he bought that looks like his uncle the consul.
Speaking of tossing books out, I’m mostly done with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Some of it I like, some I’m very dubious about.  I do think we keep too much stuff, but I’m not sure that we all would share her reactions. What I do like is that she wants you to sort according to what YOU want, so although she uses a woman who had “three large book cases plus stacks on the floor”, and how she got her own books down from 100 favorite books to 30, I think she’d acknowledge that since my vision of a perfect life is a house with tons of books, art supplies, and a well stocked kitchen, she’d accept that- as long as I got rid of the stuff I didn’t like. When discussing clothing she talked about “lounge wear” (T shirts, exercise clothes), but never work clothes. I think that business suits are the only work clothes she understands. I expect that her experience is with clients who can afford to pay someone to help them organize, and people who can afford that never need clothes that are “fit for pigs, but not for people”. There must always be appropriate clothes to put on to work in so that you don’t ruin your good clothes! That’s why there used to be a “Sunday go to meeting” outfit, and aprons. We are a rather mixed up society- we want to have the airs and graces of the upper classes, only we have to be our own servants, but don’t have the time to do the work they did to keep the upper classes so elegant. Her point about figuring out what YOU want and working toward it is good.
At no point does she address the question of clothing that isn’t your current size. I know that the Koch Brothers would say that we should toss them out and it would be good for the economy to get a new wardrobe every time you change shape. I weighed myself at Kat’s doctors two weeks ago and was nearly 285, and at the Urgent care and was 275, so it looks like the winter weight is going away. Another five pounds and that’s a “size” difference. This also runs into the issue of garments you love, I have more than once reproduced favorite garments when they wore out. If you love it, why not? I think she’d grok that. But I also expect she’d want you to chuck any clothes that don’t fit, and if I love it and hope to get back to that size, screw that. She also talks about clothes you don’t wear because they are no longer “in fashion”, and I NEVER worry about fashion. (Style, yes, fashion, no.) Do they fit? Are they stained? Do I like how they look?    But I do expect her clientele isn not like everyone who’ll read the book.
With papers, she suggests throw them all away if it’s not something you are using right now (bills that haven’t been paid, legal papers you’re required to save). I find that a scary concept- would love it, but am not sure we could get away with it. Paper trails are real, and sometimes we need to find physical proof of something. Sadly, you never know which piece is going to be required five years from now.     Steve has put all his CDs into digital files, and is thinking of getting rid of the physical copies. I love that I can carry 80 books on the kindle, but am not really sure that if I buy one that it will always be there. “The Cloud” seems very nebulous to me. I would happily buy a kindle version of a book I’m reading at home, to read in waiting rooms or traveling, if it cost what a magazine costs, so I could chuck it, as I would a magazine. (I do have trouble doing that too.) So most of my kindle purchases are small. If it’s $12 for the kindle version, and $5 for the used book, I know which I’m going to get. Afterwards I have to figure out whether to give it house-space any more.
On the other hand, I’m beginning to look around the house for things to get rid of: the TV in my room (unused in 4 years), the tape cases (now that we no longer have audio tapes), does the old barometer work? (Do I ever look at it?) I prefer the water glass- it’s pretty. Are the herbs in the cupboard still good? I think I need to chuck most of them! One of her propositions is to do the clearing all at once, and since it makes you happy, you won’t go back; if you do it gradually, you won’t get the positive reinforcement and will continue in the mess. But that would require scheduling it. Will I? I don’t know.
I’ve watched several movies this week. There was a discussion on the internet about a woman who’d advertised for actors to play black slaves at a Django Unchained theme party because her husband loved the movie, and she thought he’d enjoy it; the discussion was about whether such a party was intrinsically racist. If one had a Roman themed party and the slaves were all portraying Greeks, Gauls or Egyptians, would that be racist? It made me curious, so I watched the movie. I’d say the movie was very much not racist, although it portrayed active racism. It went so far that they had Samuel Jackson playing a black slave who totally bought into the racist BS, something I don’t think could have been shown 30 years ago.  It certainly was violent, but at the same time, having established that the “victims” were racist bastards, it didn’t bother me as much as it perhaps should have done. I suppose the risk is that once you get used to the idea that it’s OK to shoot the bastards, it’s inevitable that you’re going to shoot someone who’s innocent just because it’s become a programmed response. That risk doesn’t seem worth the initial satisfaction of vengeance.
I watched part of The Grand Budapest Hotel with Steve while getting dinner on on Sunday, finished it after. It was quirky, and witty, and fun.  I think I especially liked the well known actors doing bit parts, probably just for the fun of it. I watched The Theory of Everything, a story about the life of Steven Hawking. I’d say it was more interesting than moving. Hawking has always been just a bit of background in my life, I had no idea that he was actually older than me, and I think I had assumed that he’d been crippled since childhood. I do like how they showed that having a handicapped person in the family does change the whole dynamic. My favorite part was his rolling his wheel chair around pretending to be a Dalek for his kids. It make so much sense.
I started to watch the documentary Bully, about bullying and it’s victims, but I stopped because it was too depressing. I’ve seen and read about it before. I would love to hear that someone has actually come up with a way to deal with bullying that’s effective. Since bullies are often psychologically damaged at home, and our culture supports the behavior, as far as I know there aren’t any effective treatments yet. I suppose the first thing is to convince the people who’ll have to pay for the changes that it’s worth trying, that it is a problem. As long as people can convince themselves that it’s only a rare thing and (“not me”), it’s OK. We have to accept that it’s a problem first, then figure out what’s causing it, and stop it.
The other thing I started was the show Mr. Selfridge. Like other BBC shows, it’s a period piece 1906, lovely gowns on the rich ladies. I admire his confidence, but am looking forward to watching the various characters and sub-plots develop.

So, yes, it is Thursday. I’m trying to get my life organized better and went to bed when it hit midnight, and had to finish this in the morning. This week I’m hoping to paint Jane’s book cover, to get it done before we head off for Colonial Williamsburg. I’m hoping we have the strength to enjoy it. We’ve been wanting to see it for years.
Poor Willow, apparently she was also hoping to get home last night for her on-line gaming, and once again the game was cancelled. That bunch of friends has been having such a hard time with their health lately!

Tchipakkan
“The one process ongoing in the 1990s that will take millions of years to correct is the loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats. This is the folly that our descendants are least likely to forgive us.”
-E.O. Wilson

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